Modhera Dance Festival

Famous ancient Hindu temple of Modhera attracts a large number of classical and folk dancers and singers gather here to present their art forms in front of a large gathering of viewers from across the globe. Though Modhera Dance Festival is an attraction in itself but it attracts visitors’ attention towards great architectural heritage of India. Sun Temple in Modhera is a Hindu shrine dedicated to the solar god Surya. Modhera is, a non-descript village, is located in Mehsana district of Gujarat. The river Pushpawati flows near the temple. In present form, Modhera Sun Temple was built in 1026-27 AD in the reign of Bhima I of Chaulukya dynasty. There are some inscriptions on the wall of the temple which indicate that temple had also gone under destruction and construction. Barbaric Muslim invaders kept destroying and pillaging the temple out of religious vengeance and greed for wealth. The temple is built in Maru-Gurjara style which is also known as Chaulukaya style. Modhera Sun Temple is now not open for worship and being preserved & protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). There are three components of the temple - Gudhamandapa, Shrine Hall (Garbhagriha), Sabhamandapa - all are aligned axially.

There is a hall which is equally divided into Gudhamandapa and Garbhagirha. Gudhamandapa is a hall and Garbhagriha is a temple. Both are rectangular in shape. There is a passage, in between the walls of Gudhamandapa and Garbhagirha, known as Pradakshinamarga. Garbhagriha has two cells - a cell below the level and one above the level. Upper level has an idol of Sun (Surya) and lower level may have been for storage purposes. The idol is in standing position having lotuses in both arms and driven by seven horses. The interior walls of Garbhagirha are plain and exterior walls are sumptuously decorated. Base moulding and wall moulding are used in its decoration. The temple is designed in such a way that the first ray of rising sun falls on the statue of Surya. The three walls of Gudhamandapa have windows and a doorway on each side. Inside walls are plain but outer walls have decorating elements like moulding on walls.

Sabhamandapa or Rangamandapa is known as assembly hall or dancing hall. It has a shape of parallelogram plane with lines of pillars on both sides of entrance. These pillars are 52 in numbers. Based on its architectural style, it is considered a later extension of the temple. Its roof was in shape of stepped pyramids which is no longer available. It has walnut shaped ceiling inside which is supported by pillars and these pillars are in octagonal shape. The pillars are decorated using Toranas of semicircular and triangular shape. Pillars are of different sizes according to the base height of the plain.

Kund is a reservoir which is known as Ramakunda or Suryakunda. The reservoir is rectangular and surrounded by steps designed in Kriti Torana style. It has length of 176 feet from north to south and 120 feet from east to west. The main entrance is from west side. Entrance has several steps and two pillars on each side.

The Modhera Dance Festival is also known as Uttarardh Mahotsava. It is a three days festival organized every year by Tourism Corporation of Gujarat limited (TCGL). Modhera Utsav is a celebration of art, music, dance and culture. It showcases the traditional dance forms and acts of the region. Along with famous classical artists, folk dancers and singers from all states of India come here and showcase the respective regional dances. Several classical dances like Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali are performed by renowned dancers.The festival is organized in the third weekend of January when Uttarayan Festival ends. Since Uttarayan Festival is determined by traditional Hindu calendar, the dates every year keep changing. Uttarayan indicates Sun’s gradual positioning towards north of Equator. It heralds advent of summer in India. Modhera Sun temple is the venue of dance festival. Modhera is at a distance of 25 km from Mehsana and 106 km from Ahmedabad.

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